Isle of Skye
The highlight of our summer holiday was Isle of Skye. The beautiful island is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides. It is quite easy to get there. We went by bus from Inverness in a 3.5 hours journey (a bus trip between Inverness and Portree costs 24 pounds). The first part of the way was rather boring along Loch Ness but after the road left the lake and continued through the mountains the view became much more entertaining. On the way back, we decided to take train from Kyle of Localsh, an alternative a bit more comfortable.
During our 6 nights in Skye, we stayed in a very basic bed and breakfast. Nothing fancy, just a roof on top of our head, a shower after a tiring day and a full Scottish breakfast with lots of fried eggs and bacon. There are plenty of such B&Bs in Portree and in other places on the islands. Skye can offer both the feeling of a crowd holiday place, with lots of people doing the regular stuff like boat trips, enjoying the good fish in the restaurants and buying the souvenirs but can also offer a very isolated break in the middle of nature in case of the ones who prefer a more quite vacation, as you can find accommodations totally isolated from the rest of inhabited areas. Its just a question of choice, and since we do not have a driving license, we opted for the major city of the island and obviously the most crowdy one: Portree.
Portree is the major settlement of the island with a bit more than 2000 inhabitants. From here, there are bus services running to most parts of Skye (Troternish peninsula being pretty well covered), however the timing of the buses is not the best. They don't run early in the morning or late in the evening. So if you are willing, like us , to capture the morning and evening light in great locations, you have to either rent a car or use the services of a local photographer that provides photo guidance. And the good thing is that there are few photographers, located in Portree and other areas that can show you the places from the photographer perspective. We have worked with Tim Wilcock ( http://www.timwilcock.com/), a great landscape photographer and a very cool guy. Tim gave us the chance to shoot the Old Man of Storr at sunrise or Neist point at sunset and was a very good companion for discussion about the island and photography in general (he even recommended me the excellent Kirk ball heads and I already purchased one). We covered most of the interesting spots of the island in three sessions with Tim (one morning and 2 evening sessions of 4-6 hours): Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, Neist point, Elgol. If you are ever in Skye and looking for someone for a photo tour or even showing you the basics of landscape photography, don't hesitate to contact Tim.
In terms of other things you can do on the islands, we have to mention a very nice boat trip to Loch Coruisk, an inland fresh-water loch, lying at the foot of the Black Cuillin (I would recommend going there with one of the major boat trip providers in Elgol: Misty Isle and Bella Jane and being very careful about the bus schedule as it can be a bit misleading in regards to the last service to Broadford). Loch Coruisk is so beautiful and can be even more photogenic if the day is not a harsh sunny one as we got.
We have visited the Dunvengan castle which was a bit disappointing experience: quite boring interior and gardens; we would recommended the much nicer Eilean Donan , 1 hour away from Portree, next to the small village of Dornie. The wildlife boat trips are plenty , but can be a bit random in terms of seeing the animals that are marketed, but with a bit of luck you can get close to a sea eagle or a whale. We were not that lucky unfortunately but we spent some relaxing hours scanning the horizon through binoculars.
Now talking about negative parts, the most annoying part were the midges, who are almost everywhere in the nature and that can be quite a nuisance with their itchy bites. Taking a spray against them from the pharmacy or outdoor store can be a good idea. Another think that we need to be more careful next time is walking on very boggy terrain. During our evening at Neist point, I managed to sink my foot into the mud 30 cm over the ankle having a smelly disgusting layer of mud over my pants and shoe. But it was just mud and it went away in the shower.
Overall our Skye trip was a good blend of active holiday with hiking and photography, a bit of relaxation and nice culinary treats at the harbour restaurants.As Skye is a heaven for photographers, we understood why so many people are coming back to photography the beautiful island, and we promised ourselves to come back there, maybe in the winter or early spring time, to get a different look.
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